I sponsored Senate Bill 5445, which is currently being considered by the House Capital Budget Committee. It would appropriate $10 million of capital funds to improve security at existing and future public schools based on the measures set forth in another bill, Senate Bill 5197. Two of the Majority Coalition Caucus’ priorities are education and jobs, and as chair of the Senate capital budget committee I believe that early action in this matter will help to not only create construction jobs but provide for modern facilities that promote learning. Under SB 5445, $475 million in general obligation bonds would be appropriated for the 2013-15 school construction assistance program, including the $10 million grant program to improve security at public schools. The bill is written to take effect immediately after being signed into law.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 5197 on the same day as my bill. That measure is in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. SB 5197 would implement the use of silent panic-alarm systems in schools to expedite the response time of local law enforcement. It would also require an “optimal level of security” be incorporated into new school construction or major remodels of existing school buildings. Design considerations would vary based on the specific school site, but examples would allow for direct control and observation of the public who come on school grounds, installation of electric locks and a limit on the number of public entrances.
Both of these early-action measures will help reform education in the state of Washington.